If the second published Will Eisner’s book about Visual Storytelling is the introduction to how visual storytelling works in different mediums and media, then this (which is his first book) is where he goes in-depth about comic tools and principles, how different speech bubbles affect what context the reader sees the words in them are in, is it a thought bubble, is it a sound coming from a speaker, etc, how framing and pacing and timing works in comics specifically.
Basically, he goes into comics and principles and practices of comics, the imagery, framing, narrative tools of comics, how they work, how to use them towards your own favour to better tell a story to the reader/have the reader understand it better.
So, in both my non-instructional and instructional art book reviews, I don’t really want to give a score/rating system to the books but have categories in which I feel are important for an artbook to succeed.
For non-instructional art books, like say artbooks of movies, games, etc. I have certain categories to access them, for instructional/how-to books I have other categories.
Art books do take up a lot of space and if you don’t have a lot of space, its best to buy only the best of the best or what you yourself like.
The categories for instructional books are: Overview, Inspiration, Ease of Access (Beginner, Intermediate, Expert), Usefulness, Summary.
Overview: General, short, introduction of the book.
Inspiration: Does the book give a spark to light the artistic flames of creation or whatever, does the book inspire/make you want to draw and create your own things yourself.
Ease of Access: Certain books are only helpful to certain levels of artists, by this I mean technical skill, some books won’t make sense to beginners, others will be telling what experts already know, so starting from Beginner, to Intermediate, to Expert. Which level, the book caters to.
Usefulness: How useful the book is, does the book help to solve the problem you bought the book for.
Summary: Whether you should buy this book or not.
And now onto the review~
Overview: Will Eisner, an influential cartoonist/comic artist have made a set of books pertaining to visual storytelling and more specifically comics. A prestigious comic award is named after him, he is known for The Spirit comic amongst other works. Eisner made this set of books to help teach his students and others about comics better. In this book, he delves into the narrative tools, principles and practices comics use.
Inspiration: This book gives you the explanation in words to tools and methods that you may know of but were never really able to put into words yourself such as the different types of speech bubbles, ways the body form can be interpreted, how framing works etc. Its inspiring to be able to see these layed out so you can attempt to try them yourself in your next/first comic.
Ease of Access: The usual saying of “great for beginners and intermediates and as a refresher for experts” apply here. Things like timing that beginners and intermediates may not think about or realize or know while an expert knows but feels like they need a refresher are what makes this book have a good ease of access for everyone.
Usefulness: Another immensely useful book not in a step by step on how to draw comics way but what makes comics work, what are the principles and tools you must know and respect or knowingly subvert to tell your story in comic form.
Summary: Like the previously reviewed book this is another classic book for comic visual storytelling and I would recommend buying this as well. In fact, spoiling the next review, the set of three books feed well into each together and should be bought as a set of three. The next/last one to review is “Expressive Anatomy For Comics And Narrative”